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Assessments Explained

Getting ahead of the upcoming spring tax and school budget season, the Levittown Community Council welcomed Donald X. Clavin, Jr., receiver of taxes for the Town of Hempstead, to speak to the group at its monthly meeting on Jan. 28 at Levittown Memorial. Clavin spoke to attendees about understanding your property taxes as well as how to grieve your assessment. 

“It’s your right to challenge your assessment,” he said. “The worst that can happen is that your assessment stays exactly the same.”

Clavin told the group that due to Hurricane Sandy, the town has decided to extend the filing period for challenging assessments to May 1 this year instead of the usual March 1. 

Clavin also told the group that although they can hire an attorney to help challenge your assessment, it’s not necessary. “It does require a little legwork on your part, but you can do it yourself,” he said, and he noted that doing so would also save money. 

In order to challenge assessments, Clavin said, homeowners need to fill out an application and then find three homes within a quarter-mile of theirs, as well as ones that are in the same school district, that have sold for less than theirs within 12 months. 

However, there are some variables. “Bedrooms, bathrooms and square-footage are the keys to making sure that you get the right assessment, so you will need to pick a house that is similar to yours,” he said. “Being in Levittown is great, though, because there are so many different types of homes in the area.” If you can’t find three homes that were sold, he said that homeowners could go online and do a Nassau County property search and see what homes like theirs are assessed at. “You can use the county’s town data against them when it comes to challenging your assessment. See what the county thinks those houses are worth versus what the county says your home is worth,” he said. Any combination of sales and county assessments will do when it comes to supporting your argument, he said. However, said Clavin, foreclosures and short sales are not accepted when it comes to challenging the assessment of your home. 

Clavin also told the group that if their challenge is denied, they are entitled to take the claim to small claims court for a small fee, which many of the attorneys are doing, in order to have a judge make an independent ruling. 

“That’s why it is important to have your own evidence to support your challenge, because at the end of the day, a judge will sit down and go over all of the documents you gave him, so you have to be able to give him proof of your claim.”

Although Clavin didn’t go in-depth about exemptions, he did remind the group to apply for the Veteran’s, senior citizen and enhanced STAR tax discounts. “Even though the Governor put his 2 percent tax levy cap in place on the schools, 2 percent is a lot of money to people, especially when you haven’t had a raise or a job for a number of years. Every bit helps,” he said.